Credit Card and Payment Processing Terms You Need to Know Now


Like many other industries, the credit card and payment processing industry has its own language. It can be confusing to merchants and consumers, but it’s crucial to your business that you understand the terms and the many abbreviations that go along with them. 

One of the hottest topics in payment processing is right now is security, and it’s up to you, the merchant, to make sure your customer’s information is safe and secure. The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.

Your Partners

Let’s start with a couple of terms that you probably already know, like MSPs, or Merchant Service Providers. These are payment processing companies who help businesses process their credit card payments. For example, Ironwood’s payment processing partner is Vantiv. 

Then there are ISOs or Independent Sales Organizations, like Ironwood. We resell the products and services of MSPs, offering personal service, value-added products, and, most importantly, education to help you improve your operations and ultimately increase your revenue. ISOs serve as the middle man between payment processors and merchants. 

Together, we are the team you can depend on to help navigate the murky waters of the payment processing industry and make sure you and your customers protected.

The ABC’s of Payment Processing Security

Possibly the most important term related to security is a set of requirements called PCI-DSS. These standards were developed in 2006 by the major credit card companies to ensure all businesses that process, store, or transmit credit card information maintain a secure environment. Simply put, it was developed to protect the consumer’s information. In order to do this, you must make sure your business is compliant with these guidelines. The process is simple and necessary to avoid unwanted penalty fees. Your payment processing partner can walk you though taking the annual SAQ, or self-assessment questionnaire, that is required to become PCI compliant.

Another important piece of the compliance puzzle is making sure your customer’s information safe. EMV chip and pin technology, or “the chip” as you may know it, is now the worldwide standard for interaction between smart cards and approved payment devices. "The chip", when used with a PIN (Personal Identification Number), optimizes fraud prevention at the POS (Point of Sale). Under PCI compliance guidelines, merchants and processors were required to adopt EMV technology by October of 2015.  

In order to accept EMV chip and pin technology, you have to start with the appropriate system. One thing to look for when you are upgrading is P2PE, or point-to-point encryption. This solution allows cardholder information to be encrypted at the swipe so you aren’t storing sensitive data in your POS (point of sale system). P2PE is comprised of several components including hardware, software and other processes that work together to keep information secure.  

Again, you shouldn’t feel alone in understanding the payment processing world. You need a partner who is not only there to provide you with the right equipment, but one dedicated to helping your business thrive. A true partner wants to keep you and your customers protected and help you avoid costly penalties and fees that can come from not being PCI compliant, so choose your partner wisely. If you are scratching your head to remember the last time you completed an SAQ or the only chip you're familar with comes in a bag, it might be time to evaluate your payment processing relationship.

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